I recently met with David Symons, director of corporate services at WSP Environmental, who expressed concerns that carbon was becoming a bit passé.
Not that he was advocating that firms should move away from carbon cutting policies – quite the opposite in fact. He argued that as it became the norm for larger firms to boast carbon strategies businesses would find it harder and harder to gain a competitive advantage through instigating such initiatives.
They would, of course, risk considerable commercial damage from regulators and customers by not having such a strategy, but only the very best carbon cutting initiatives would be able to stand out from the crowd.
One potential solution to this problem, according to Symons, is for firms to augment their carbon cutting strategies with broader environmental policies that allow them to carve out a leadership position in other areas such as water conservation or the phasing out of hazardous chemicals.
When it comes to hazardous chemicals in particular there appears to be plenty of potential for firms to stand out from the poorly performing crowd. New research highlighting the number of children's toys containing hazardous chemicals certainly suggests that there is space in the market for a firm that makes a fuss about its refusal to use toxic nasties. And if the potential for brand leadership is not incentive enough imminent EU regulations should be forcing vast numbers of companies to assess their chemicals strategies.
Focusing on fresh ways of greening your business may also provide some light relief from the increasingly confusing rules and guidelines governing carbon and climate change. This week alone we've had (entirely justified, legitimate and accurate) reports slamming the UN's trading scheme, criticising Europe's trading scheme, and warning that too many businesses are ignoring the increased risks of coastal floods.
Not that the outlook is all doom and gloom. How can it be in a world where green jobs are booming, electric cars are safer than ever, submarines will soon be running on fuel cells and even David Cameron and his wind mill are having intelligent ideas on renewable energy?
Have a good weekend.
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